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Performer Mayyadda singing at the University of Minnesota Juneteenth Celebration “We Are The Noise: The Echoes of Our Ancestors” captured on Saturday, June 15.
Best photos of June '24
Published June 23, 2024

Poor schools are punished

Federal budget cuts are proving to be particularly harmful for poor school districts.

The longer Congress waits to undo the sequester, the more damage is done to America’s future.

Last week, National Public Radio reported on how various school districts across the country were dealing with the $3 billion cut from federal education funds, just one part of the $85 billion in automatic federal budget cuts.

Not surprisingly, most school districts do not have much money to spare. Many districts rely heavily on federal dollars, so the 5 percent cut imposed by the sequester accounts for a huge budget cut.

The Red Lake Independent School District, located on an Indian reservation in Red Lake, Minn., is one such district. The Pioneer Press reported that the district receives about $8 million in federal funds, and, because of sequester, Red Lake was forced to cut $1.3 million from its budget. As a result, five teachers and three paraprofessionals had to be laid off.

The Press also reported that the Naytahwaush charter school on the White Earth Indian Reservation in Minnesota cut 10 percent from its $2.2 million annual budget.

Schools on Indian reservations are facing deeper cuts than others since they’re on non-taxable government land and thus get no local property tax revenue.

These schools are in the minority, however, which is likely why there hasn’t been much attention brought to the issue. Still, there are plenty of schools receiving local property tax revenue that are also struggling. According to NPR, a study for the non-partisan Education Commission of the States found the most painful cuts were most often affecting school districts with large numbers of impoverished children.

It would be naive to think Congress will provide relief for these school districts any time soon, but it’s important to raise awareness of this issue and to hold elected officials accountable. There is a serious risk these cuts could become institutionalized, in which case the money lost in the sequester may never come back.


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